Murder of Selena

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Murder of Selena
Selena memorial.jpg
The Mirador de la Flor, which was unveiled in 1997 in honor of Selena, was sculpted by H.W. "Buddy" Tatum and funded by the Devary Durril Foundation[1]
Time 11:48am (approximate time)
Date March 31, 1995 (1995-03-31)
Location Days Inn, Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S.
Deaths Selena Quintanilla
Convicted Yolanda Saldívar
Charges First degree murder
Verdict Life imprisonment

Selena was an American singer-songwriter who gained international fame as the lead vocalist of her family-oriented band Selena y Los Dinos. On the morning of March 31, 1995, she was murdered by Yolanda Saldívar, a Selena Etc. clothing boutique manager who had been her fan-club president until she was fired for embezzlement three weeks earlier. She persuaded the singer to meet with her secretly and shot her in the back, severing an artery and killing her. Saldívar claimed that in an attempt to end her own life she accidentally shot Selena, but the jury at her trial did not believe her; she was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 2025.

The Hispanic community was stunned by the murder, naming the event "Black Friday". Radio personality Howard Stern mocked Selena's mourners and funeral, spawning boycotts by her fans. The reaction to Selena's murder was compared to those following the deaths of John Lennon and Elvis Presley. Her funeral drew 60,000 mourners, while numerous tributes and memorials were held throughout the United States and Spanish-speaking Latin America. Selena's story had been documented on biographical shows, series and talk shows worldwide, and her murder boosted her popularity. She became a household name in the United States, becoming more popular in death than she had been in life.[2][3] The posthumous album Dreaming of You (1995), a crossover attempt, helped Selena become that year's second-fastest selling female artist (behind Janet Jackson). She was honored by two life-sized statues: one in Corpus Christi, Texas (Mirador de la Flor), and the other in Apodaca, Nuevo León. In 1997 Warner Bros. produced Selena, an eponymous biographical film which elevated Jennifer Lopez to fame. Two years later, the story of Selena inspired a Broadway musical starring Veronica Vasquez. In 2005 Selena ¡VIVE!, a tribute concert, was held a week after the 10th anniversary of her murder. The concert was aired live on Univision and was the most-watched Spanish-language show in the history of American television.

Life and career[edit]

During the early 1990s Selena became the "Queen of Tejano music", and was poised to become a successful American solo artist.[4] To manage her growing admirers, Selena hired Saldívar as her fan-club president.[5] Before her death, Selena had sold approximately 1.8 million albums in the U.S.;[6] she was recording songs for a crossover album,[5][7][8] which was intended to increase her success in the U.S. and expand her English-speaking fan base.[9] Selena's goal was to become a pop icon similar to Donna Summer, Paula Abdul, Madonna and Mariah Carey.[10]

Selena Etc. and Saldívar[edit]

In early 1994 Selena opened her Selena Etc. boutiques in Corpus Christi, Texas, hiring Yolanda Saldívar to manage the chain. Eight months later, she signed Saldívar as her registered agent in San Antonio, Texas. The Quintanilla family believed Saldívar was the best choice because of her excellent job in boosting membership of the Selena Fan Club (to over 400,000), organizing special events and helping Selena deal with admirers at public events. After being hired for the boutiques, Saldívar moved from South San Antonio to Corpus Christi to be closer to Selena.[11]

Saldívar's room was covered with Selena posters and pictures, burning votive candles and a library of Selena videos (which she used to entertain guests). During an interview with Saldívar in 1995, reporters from The Dallas Morning News believed that Saldívar's devotion to Selena bordered on obsession.[11] Saldívar then began telling the staff that she wanted to "be like Selena". Around this time, Selena gave Saldívar her American Express card for the purpose of conducting company business but Saldívar used the credit card to rent Lincoln Town Cars, travel to and from Mexico, entertain associates in fancy restaurants and purchase two cellular phones which she carried.[12] She also altered Ellen Tracy designer jackets made for the boutiques, backing up her authority to do so with the card.[12] When Saldívar became a business associate (in addition to being a friend), their relationship began to fall apart. Staff members at Selena Etc. complained that Saldívar was always "nice" when Selena was around; when she was not, Saldívar treated everyone terribly.[13]

Employee dissatisfaction[edit]

In December 1994, the boutiques began to suffer. Staff at both stores had been reduced from 38 to 14 employees, largely because Saldívar fired anyone she did not like. The remaining employees began complaining to Selena about Saldívar, but Selena did not believe that her "friend" would do anything to hurt her or her business. The employees then began to take their concerns to Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla, Jr., who cautioned Selena that Saldívar might be a dangerous person. Selena did not suspect that Saldívar would turn on her because her father had always distrusted people.[14]

In January 1995 Debra Ramirez, Selena's cousin, was hired to work in the boutiques and to help Selena expand the fashion venture into Mexico. Ramirez quit within a week, telling Saldívar that she was dissatisfied with staff members' failure to report sales. Saldívar replied that it was not Ramirez's business, and that she would take care of it.

Martin Gomez (a fashion designer for Selena) and Saldívar frequently clashed, with Gomez complaining that Saldívar was mismanaging Selena's affairs. Their animosity intensified during Selena's fashion shows; Gomez accused Saldívar of mutilating (or destroying) some of his original creations, claiming that she never paid bills.[15] When Saldívar visited the factory in Mexico, she intimidated the seamstresses by telling them to either leave or side with her. Gomez tried to convince Selena that Saldívar was "bad news", but Saldívar claimed that he was exaggerating. A few weeks later, Saldívar asked employees to help pay for a gift for Selena.[15] Philip Randolph (who helped design the gift, a diamond-encrusted-egg ring) noted that Saldívar did not want Selena to know that she had bought anything, let alone its cost.[16]

Termination[edit]

Starting in January 1995, Abraham began receiving phone calls and letters from angry fan club members who claimed to have paid their enrollment fee and had not received the promised memorabilia. Upon investigation, Abraham discovered that Saldívar was embezzling more than $30,000 in forged checks from both the fan club and the boutiques. With this evidence, Abraham held a closed meeting the night of March 9 with Selena and her sister, Suzette Quintanilla, at Q-Productions to confront Saldívar. Abraham presented Saldívar with the inconsistencies concerning the disappearing funds. He reported that Saldívar simply stared at him without answering any of his questions. Abraham told Saldívar that if she didn't come up with evidence that disproved his accusations, then he was going to get the police involved. Still, without saying a word, Saldívar abruptly got up and left the meeting and Suzette accused Saldívar of being a liar and a thief. The next morning Eddie Quintanilla (Abraham's brother), called him because Saldívar had shown up at Q-Productions with Laurie Rothe, another employee. Abraham drove to Q-Productions and chased Saldívar off the premises, telling her that she was no longer welcome. The same day, Selena and Saldívar engaged in an intense argument over the phone; Selena hung up and told her husband, Chris Pérez, that she could no longer trust Saldívar. However, she did not want to dissolve their friendship; she felt that Saldívar was essential to whether the clothing line would take off in Mexico. Selena also wanted to keep Saldívar close because she had bank records, statements and financial records necessary for tax preparation.[17]

.38 Special[edit]

On March 13, 1995 (two days after Saldívar was banned from Q-Productions) she went to A Place To Shoot, a gun shop and shooting range in south San Antonio, and bought a Taurus Model 85 snub-nosed .38-caliber revolver. She also bought .38 caliber hollow-point bullets. Hollow points bullets are specifically designed to expand the type of injury that a normal bullet would inflict, potentially causing more severe damage.[17] Saldívar lied to the clerk, saying that she needed protection for her job (as an in-house nurse caring for terminally ill patients), because a patient's relatives had threatened her. Two days later, Selena asked Saldívar to accompany her on a Monterrey, Mexico, tour. Saldívar then returned the handgun to the shop, claiming that her father had given her a .22-caliber pistol. During the trip, Selena began pressuring Saldívar to return the bank statements; when they got back, Saldívar bought the gun again.[18]

The following week, Saldívar's name was removed as chief executive officer for Selena Design House Inc. and she was replaced as fan club president by Irene Herrera.[18] On March 26, 1995, Saldívar stole a perfume sample and more bank statements from Selena in Mexico. On March 29, 1995, Saldívar told Dr. Ricardo Martinez, Selena's primary care physician, that she had been raped by Selena's father; since he had been informed by Selena's family that Saldívar and Selena's relationship was beginning to deteriorate, he did not believe her.[19]

Murder[edit]

Around 11:00 pm on March 30, 1995, Selena and Chris Pérez went to Saldívar's room at the Days Inn motel in Corpus Christi to pick up the missing documents Selena needed for tax purposes. Saldívar told Selena to come alone, but Pérez, out of fear for his wife's safety, insisted that he come with her. When Selena and Pérez returned home, she discovered that there were still some bank statements missing. Saldívar later called Selena, saying that she had been raped in Mexico and again told Selena to come alone to the motel. Pérez told Selena to tell Saldívar that it was too late, but Selena agreed to meet secretly with Saldívar the following morning.[20] At around 9:00 am, Selena got dressed and left Chris sleeping in bed and headed out to meet with Saldívar. At the motel, Selena demanded the financial papers; Saldívar delayed the handover by claiming she had been raped in Mexico.[4] The singer then drove Saldívar to Doctors Regional Hospital where doctors found no evidence of rape.[21] The two women returned to the motel where Selena again demanded the financial papers.[22] Selena told Saldívar that she could no longer be trusted.[23]

At 11:48 am, Saldívar drew the gun from her purse[24] and pointed it at Selena.[23] As Selena attempted to flee, Saldívar shot her once on the right lower shoulder, severing an artery and resulting in a massive loss of blood.[23] Critically wounded, Selena ran towards the lobby, leaving a trail of blood 392 feet (119 m) long.[23] She collapsed on the floor as the clerk called 9-1-1, with Saldívar still chasing after her and calling her a "bitch".[25] Selena clutched her chest, screaming "Help me! Help me! I've been shot!" Before collapsing, she named Saldívar as her assailant and gave the number of the room where she had been shot.[26] Selena's condition began to deteriorate rapidly as motel staff attended to her.[23] A staff member tried to talk to her, but noted that she was beginning to fade away;[23] he stated that she was moaning and moving less.

An ambulance arrived at the scene in one minute and 55 seconds.[23] The paramedics applied a Vaseline gloss to Selena's wound, which stopped the surface bleeding.[23] By now Selena's heartbeat was very slow, and a paramedic performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation to keep her blood circulating.[23] Meanwhile, Saldívar got into her pickup truck and attempted to leave the motel. However, she was spotted by a responding police cruiser. An officer emerged from the cruiser, drew his gun and ordered Saldívar to come out of the truck. Saldívar did not comply. Instead, she backed up and parked adjacent to two cars, with her truck then being blocked in by the police cruiser.[23] Saldívar then picked up the pistol, pointed it at her right temple, and threatened to commit suicide.[23] A SWAT team and the FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit were brought in.[23]

During this time, a paramedic tried inserting an IV needle into Selena, but due to the massive blood loss and low (or no) blood pressure, her veins had collapsed making the insertion extremely difficult.[23] Navigation Boulevard was shut down by local police.[23] At 12:00 pm, paramedics delivered Selena to Corpus Christi Memorial Hospital. She was transferred to the trauma room where doctors and surgeons began blood transfusions in an attempt to reestablish blood circulation after opening Selena's chest and finding massive internal bleeding.[23] Since the bullet had pierced an artery, after 50 minutes the doctors realized that the damage was irreparable.[23] Selena was pronounced dead at 1:05 pm from blood loss and cardiac arrest.[23][27]

Standoff[edit]

Meanwhile, negotiators ran a phone line to their base of operations (adjacent to Saldívar's pickup truck) as the standoff continued.[23] Lead negotiator Larry Young tried to establish a rapport with Saldívar and persuade her to give herself up.[23] Another negotiator, Isaac Valencia, suggested that the shooting was accidental; Saldívar later changed her story, claiming that the "gun went off" by itself.[23]

During the third hour, an autopsy was performed due to overwhelming media interest.[23] It revealed that the bullet had entered Selena's lower back, passed through her chest cavity (severing the right common carotid artery) and exited her right upper chest.[23] It also revealed that Selena's heart, fueled by adrenaline, increased the rate of blood loss. Doctors also found that if the bullet had been only one millimeter higher or lower, the wound would not have been as severe.[23]

After the standoff entered its fourth hour, Valencia succeeded in getting Saldívar to confess that she had intended to shoot herself.[23] Saldívar claimed that Selena tried to tell her not to kill herself, while pointing the gun to her head. When Selena opened the door to leave, Saldívar stated that she told Selena to close it.[23] Saldívar also claimed that the gun went off when Selena left. During the sixth hour, Saldívar agreed to give herself up;[23] however, when she saw a police officer pointing a rifle at her, she panicked and ran back to her truck, picked up the revolver and placed it on her head again.[23] Saldívar finally surrendered, after nearly nine-and-a-half hours.[22] By that time, hundreds of fans had gathered at the scene; many wept as police took Saldívar away.[22][23] News stations around the world later aired video footage of Saldívar locked in her truck holding a gun to her head while surrounded by police and SWAT teams.

Within hours of Selena's murder, a press conference was called. Assistant Police Chief Ken Bung and Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla, Jr., informed the press that the possible motive was that Selena went to the Days Inn motel to terminate "her" employment; Saldívar was still unidentified by name in media reports. Rudy Treviño, director of the Texas Talent Music Association and sponsor of the Tejano Music Awards, declared that March 31, 1995 would be known as "Black Friday".[28][29][30]

Impact[edit]

Fan response[edit]

When radio station KEDA-AM broke the news, many people accused the staff of lying, considering the following day after her death was April Fool's Day.[31] In San Antonio, major Spanish-language radio stations (including Tejano 107, KXTN-FM, KRIO-FM and KEDA-AM) interrupted their programming to break the news. Listeners were in shock and disbelief. The lead item on national network evening news programs in Corpus Christi had been the end of the 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike; within thirty minutes, Selena's murder was the lead item on all television stations in South Texas.[28]

The news struck the Hispanic community extremely hard; many traveled thousands of miles to Selena's house, boutiques and the crime scene.[31][32] By mid-afternoon, police were asked to form a detour as a line of automobiles began backing up traffic from the Quintanillas' houses.[28] On the street where Selena had lived, gang graffiti and cacti distinguished the blue-collar community from other subdivisions across America.[28] The chain-link fence in front of Selena's house became a shrine, festooned with mementoes.[33] Fans from Puerto Rico and Wisconsin left messages and notes to Selena and the Quintanilla family.[34] The majority of cars in Corpus Christi and cars traveling to Interstate 37 from Mexico turned their headlights on in her memory.[35] Fans scribbled notes and messages on the door of Room 158, and left handwritten messages on the doorstep.[36]

Julio Iglesias interrupted a recording session in Miami for a moment of silence; Celia Cruz called Q-Productions to offer condolences, while Madonna sent a fax. Concerts throughout Texas were canceled. La Mafia canceled their Guatemala concert, and flew back to Texas. American singer Stefanie Ridel called KXTN-FM in tears, lamenting the loss.[33]

Soon after learning of Selena's death, people began theorizing about who had murdered her. Emilio Navaria's wife was the prime suspect, since many believed she was jealous of Selena and Emilio's relationship. Johnny Pasillas, Emilio's brother-in-law and manager, frantically called radio stations in an attempt to quash the jealous-lover rumor.[31] Newsstands were swarmed for anything concerning Selena.[37] Her death was front-page news in The New York Times for two days,[38] and was featured prominently on the BBC World News.[35] Selena was cited in China as one of "10 representatives of Latin music".[39]

A People magazine issue was released several days after her murder. Its publishers believed that interest would soon wane; they released a commemorative issue within a week when it became apparent that it was growing. News about Selena continued to appear on national television.[37] People commemoratives have been published only for Princess Diana, Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor and Selena.[37] The issue sold nearly a million copies,[37][40] selling the entire first and second run within two weeks. It became a collector's item, a first in the history of People.[37] Betty Cortina, editor of People, told Biography that they never had an issue that was completely sold out; "it was unheard of".[37] In the following months the company released People en Español (for the Hispanic market), due to the success of the Selena issue.[37]

Other reaction[edit]

I grew up around these people. The reaction was typical of the majority of Texans, to whom the murder of Selena was just another senseless shooting. To those people, though, the five million Texans of Mexican decent, the death of Selena was Black Friday, a day of infamy even darker and more evil than the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

European American Selena fan, explaining differences in reaction to the death of Selena between whites and Mexican-Americans in Texas.[41]

On April 12, 1995, two weeks after her death, George W. Bush (governor of Texas at the time) declared her birthday Selena Day in Texas.[42][43][44] On Selena Day, 1,000 fans gathered at her grave and began to sing traditional Mexican folk songs; police were brought in to control the crowd.[45] On the same day, a crowd of 3,000 attended an organized Mass of the Resurrection for Selena at Johnnyland Concert Park.[45]

Some European Americans in Texas wrote to the editor of the Brazosport Facts during April and May, asking what the big deal was; some were also offended that Selena Day fell on Easter Sunday. Others agreed that "Easter is more important than Selena Day", and believed that everyone should let Selena rest in peace and go on with their lives.[46] Mexican Americans in Texas wrote vociferously to the newspaper. Some agreed that others were too critical of "Selena Day"; however, they did not have to celebrate the day and should not have responded so rudely.[47]

A few days later Howard Stern mocked Selena's murder and burial, poked fun at her mourners and criticized her music. Stern said, "This music does absolutely nothing for me. Alvin and the Chipmunks have more soul ... Spanish people have the worst taste in music. They have no depth". Stern's comments infuriated the Hispanic community across Texas.[48] After a disorderly conduct arrest warrant was issued against him, Stern later made an on-air apology in Spanish for his comments.[citation needed] The League of United Latin American Citizens boycotted Stern's show, finding his apology unacceptable.[49] Within a week, on NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Stern and Robin Quivers (his African-American co-host) were asked if Stern's remarks about Selena were acceptable. Quivers decided not to talk about the situation, to avoid arguing with Stern. When Linda Ronstadt (a pop singer of Mexican-American heritage) appeared on the show, she and Quivers quickly got into an argument when Ronstadt defended Selena.[50]

Music[edit]

Within hours, record stores had sold out of Selena's albums; EMI Latin began pressing several million CDs and cassettes to meet the expected demand.[35] Selena was inducted into the Latin Music Hall of Fame in 1995.[40] Dreaming of You (1995), a posthumous album, made its debut at the number-one spot on the Billboard 200 in the U.S.; it stayed on the chart for 49 weeks,[51] selling 175,000 copies on the first day (a record for a female pop singer).[52] Eventually, Selena became the first female recording artist to place five albums simultaneously on the Billboard 200.[53] The album was also the 75th top-seller in the U.S. for BMG Music Club.[54] Dreaming of You also debuted at number-one on the Latin Albums[51] and Latin Pop Albums charts in the U.S. and remained on the charts for 128 and 104 weeks, respectively.[51] The album helped Selena to become the second-fastest-selling female artist, behind Janet Jackson.[55] Dreaming of You became the second-highest debut, behind Michael Jackson.[56] For selling 1,700,000 copies in the U.S. alone, Dreaming of You was listed as one of the "Best-Selling Records of 1995" according to Billboard magazine and SoundScan.[57] After the album's release, the singles "I Could Fall in Love" and "Dreaming of You" topped the charts and received extensive airplay in the United States.[58] Billboard named Selena the "Best Selling Latin Artist of the Decade" and "Top Latin Artist of the 90s".[59][60] As of 2012, she has sold over 60 million albums worldwide.[61]

Selena continues to outsell many living artists.[62] Many music critics believed if Selena had lived she would have surpassed the record sales of Madonna, Gloria Estefan, Paula Abdul[63] and Whitney Houston.[64] By 1996, Selena held the record for most wins at the Latin Music Awards.[65] The Guinness Book of World Records named her as the "most dominating artist".[66] Selena is one of the most widely known Mexican-American vocal artists[67][68] and the most popular Latin artist in the United States.[69][68] Abraham Quintanilla III (A.B.), her brother, producer and fellow songwriter, said he had "lost his muse," and Tejano music has not recovered since her murder.[70] Selena retains great devotion from many fans.[71][72][73] Mexican-American singer-actress Selena Gomez was named after Selena, and said that she means a lot to her and her family.[74]

Funeral and tributes[edit]

Selena's tombstone in Seaside Memorial Cemetery in Corpus Christi

A number of vigils and memorials were held in Selena's honor,[36] and radio stations in Texas played her music non-stop.[4] On the day of the murder, Tejano 107 sponsored a candlelight vigil at the Sunken Gardens, while KRIO-FM sponsored its own at South Park Mall, which was attended by 5,000.[33]

On April 1, 1995, Bayfront Plaza in Corpus Christi held a vigil which drew 3,000 fans.[75][76] State Senator Carlos Truan made an appearance, and eulogized Selena.[77] During the event, it was announced that a public viewing of the casket would be held at the Bayfront Auditorium the following day. Fans lined up for almost a mile.[75] An hour before the doors opened rumors began circulating that the casket was empty, which prompted the Quintanilla family to have an open-casket viewing.[35][78] About 30,000 to 40,000 fans passed by Selena's coffin.[78][79][80] The same day an unannounced bilingual Sunday morning mass for Selena was held at the San Fernando Cathedral in downtown San Antonio, featuring a mariachi choir.[75]

Selena's funeral was held on April 2, 1995. Six hundred guests (mostly family members) attended the morning services, which were broadcast live by a Corpus Christi and San Antonio radio station. A Jehovah's Witness minister from Lake Jackson preached in English, quoting Paul the Apostle's words in 1 Corinthians 15. Selena was buried the following day at Seaside Memorial Park, with hundreds of cars circling the area.[81] A special mass at the Los Angeles Sports Arena the same day drew a crowd of 4,000. Selena had been booked there that night for her Amor Prohibido Tour. The promoter charged admission, which upset Abraham Quintanilla Jr.[35] In Lake Jackson, Selena's hometown, 1,000 fans and friends gathered at the municipal park in neighboring Clute (where she had played at the Mosquito Festival in July 1994).[82]

The next day Our Lady of the Pillar, a church in Spain, held a mass for Selena which drew 450 people to their 225-seat church.[83] In the week following her murder, seven out of every hundred newborns in Santa Clara County, California were named Selena.[35] On April 28, during a fireworks display for Buccaneer Days in Corpus Christi, the music was reworked to include "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" in memory of Selena.[84]

Governor George W. Bush designated April 16 "Selena Day" in Texas.

Trial[edit]

Within 20 minutes of Saldívar's surrender, she was taken to the downtown police station and placed in an interrogation room with Paul and Ray Rivera.[85] Paul Rivera, who had investigated homicides since 1978, informed Saldívar of her right to an attorney, which she waived.[85] When police investigators surrounded Saldívar's truck she had cried out, "I can't believe I killed my best friend".[86] Within hours, she claimed that the shooting was accidental.

Saldívar's bond was initially set at $100,000, and District Attorney Carlos Valdez had it raised to $500,000. The Nueces County jail was deluged with death threats and public calls for vigilante justice. Even some gang members in Texas were reported to have taken up collections to raise the bond for Saldívar so they could kill her when she was released. In prison, she faced more death threats from inmates. The Mexican Mafia, a dominant gang in the Texas penal system, reportedly placed a price on her head and spread the word that anyone who committed the crime would be a hero.[85] Saldívar's crime was punishable to up to 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.[87] Saldívar was kept at Nueces County jail under a suicide watch before her trial.[78] The state had difficulty arranging defense counsel for Saldívar;[88] a spokesperson commented that any lawyer defending Saldívar could face death threats.[88]

Brick wall and arch sign reading "Mountain View Unit"
Mountain View Unit where Saldívar is being held

At her trial, the jury deliberated for two hours before finding Saldívar guilty of murder.[89] She received the maximum sentence of life in prison on October 23, 1995, with parole eligibility in 30 years.[90] On November 22, 1995, she arrived at the Gatesville Unit (now the Christina Crain Unit) in Gatesville, Texas, for processing.[91] Saldívar is currently serving her sentence at Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. She will be eligible for parole on March 30, 2025.[92]

Because of multiple internal death threats from incarcerated Selena fans, Saldívar was placed in isolation and spends 23 of every 24 hours alone in her 9 by 6 feet (2.7 by 1.8 m) cell, apart from other inmates who may want to do her harm.[93]

Post-trial[edit]

During a 1995 interview with 20/20, Saldívar told reporter Deborah Roberts that "I did not kill Selena, it was an accident and my conscience is clear". She also told Roberts that she had intended to commit suicide, and had wanted to tell Selena that she could no longer work for her. Saldívar then claimed that Selena had fallen to her knees and begged, "Mom, we need to talk about this". (Selena's mother, Marcella Samoa, told Roberts that the family doubted Selena would have called Saldívar "Mom"). Saldívar claimed that following this exchange, Selena got up and walked at an angle towards the door to open it. Saldívar said that she then pointed the gun away from her head and towards the door, telling Selena to close the door. She said that at that instant the gun went off. When asked if she had known at that moment that Selena had been shot, she responded that she had not. Roberts then told her that there was blood all over the room. Saldívar responded that she was not looking at the door.[86]

Saldívar told Roberts that she had never stolen money from the fan club. Abraham Quintanilla Jr. later told Roberts that there was proof she had stolen over $100,000 from Selena. Selena's father told Roberts that Saldívar was stalking Selena by telephone. During the interview, when Saldívar was asked why she needed a gun she insisted it was because Selena's father had threatened her life. Quintanilla Jr. disputed this, telling Roberts that he had never threatened Saldívar.[86]

Forensic psychologist Dr. Reed Monlore studied Roberts' interview with Saldívar, and told her that Saldívar showed signs of obsessive–compulsive disorder throughout the interview; Monlore also told Roberts that Saldívar has a personality disorder. When the tape was played, Monlore was intrigued by Saldívar's response to the question "If you could go back and do something differently on that morning of March 31, what would you do?" Saldívar replied, "I would want her to kill me". Monlore told Roberts that Saldívar had had a homicidal impulse.[86]

After the interview Saldívar told Roberts she wanted to appeal, stating that the police had ignored her statements about the shooting being accidental.[86] Saldívar requested that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals review a petition challenging her conviction. She claimed the petition was filed in 2000 with the 214th District Court, but was never sent to the higher court. Her request was received on March 31, 2008, the 13th anniversary of Selena's murder.[94] The gun used to kill Selena was destroyed and the pieces thrown into Corpus Christi Bay in 2002 under a judge's order, despite protests from historians.[95][96]

Lorenzo Salinas accusations[edit]

During a special screening of VH1's Behind the Music, Saldívar revealed information about a person named Lorenzo Salinas. Saldívar repeatedly stated that Selena "wasn't the person everyone had thought she was". The reporter retrieved mailed letters which Saldívar and her parents claimed to be from Salinas. In one, the letter told of Salinas' conscience being torn because "he knows the truth". Salinas also argued in the letter that the information could help Saldívar be released from prison. He also stated that he feels remorseful for Saldívar, because he had beaten her. The Texas Department of Correction confirmed that the letters were sent from Mexico. The VH1 reporter tried unsuccessfully for seven months to find his whereabouts or confirm his existence. Salinas, Saldívar claims, was a businessman who had worked with Selena in Mexico in early 1995.[97]

Saldívar claimed that two weeks prior to the murder, she had discovered videotapes damaging to Selena's career. She also claimed that she had Selena's diary, which corroborated information about the tapes. In the second letter, Salinas wrote that he was hired by a third party to beat Saldívar to retrieve the tapes as part of a plot to exploit Selena. Saldívar claimed that she was attacked, but managed to escape. Saldívar told VH1 reporter Jim Forbes that she has the tapes and diary stashed in a safe deposit box in Monterrey, Mexico. Forbes and an attorney for Saldívar went to Mexico, reportedly visiting every storage facility Saldívar and her parents had told them to search. They found no evidence of the existence of the tapes and diary and the attorney removed himself as counsel for Saldívar after they returned.[97]

Memorials and tributes[edit]

Statue of large white rose surrounded by a round metal railing
Memorial to Selena in Corpus Christi, Texas

Selena's family and her former band, Los Dinos, held a tribute concert a week after the 10th anniversary of her murder on April 7, 2005. The concert, entitled Selena ¡VIVE!, was broadcast live on Univision and achieved a 35.9 household rating. It was the highest-rated and most-viewed Spanish-language television special in the history of American television. The special was also the number-one program (regardless of language) among adults ages 18 to 34 in Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco; it tied for first in New York, beating that night's episode of Fox's American Idol.[98] Among Hispanic viewers, Selena ¡VIVE! outperformed Super Bowl XLV between the Packers and the Steelers and the telenovela Soy Tu Dueña during the "most-watched NFL season ever among Hispanics".[99][100]

In 1997 Selena was commemorated with a museum and a bronze life-sized statue (Mirador de la Flor in Corpus Christi, Texas), which are visited by hundreds of fans each week.[101] For the 16th anniversary of her murder on March 31, 2011, Selena was given a statue in Apodaca, Nuevo León.[102]

In an E! Special, Amanda Dawn "Mandy" Cornett, the mother of actress and former Disney star Selena Gomez, revealed that she named her daughter after the Tejano singer. Gomez was born three years before the Tejano star's murder.

In Corpus Christi, Texas a memorial to Selena exist to honor her growing up in Corpus Christi. The Statue still stands today but is covered in graffiti and destruction. [103]

Media[edit]

Autopsy photographs[edit]

On November 14, 1995, the tabloid Globe '​s cover story on Selena's death featured six autopsy photos by a police photographer. The headlines were "Shot in the Back!" and "Exclusive! Dramatic autopsy photos reveal innocent beauty was gunned down by lying coward". Retailers across South Texas and the United States removed copies from their shelves. Abraham Quintanilla Jr. filed a lawsuit against the Globe, which was later dropped.[104]

Biographical film and play[edit]

Jennifer Lopez played Selena in a film about her life. Directed by Gregory Nava, the biographical film opened to mainly-positive reviews.[105] Over 24,000 people auditioned for the lead role.[106] Selena's fans supported the movie, and Lopez's performance helped launch her career.[107] Lopez was nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Musical.[108] Although Lopez went on to become a pop star a few years later, Selena's voice was dubbed in for all the songs.[109] The film grossed $35,281,794.[110][111]

In 1999, a Broadway-bound musical entitled Selena was scheduled to premiere in San Antonio in March 2000 to commemorate the fifth anniversary of her murder. Broadway producers Tom Quinn, Jerry Frankel, Peter Fitzgerald and Michael Vega staged the musical,[112] and Edward Gallardo wrote the show's book and lyrics. Fernando Rivas composed the show's songs. In 2000, Selena Forever was first produced for a 30-city national tour with a budget of over US$2 million.[112] After a national casting call, producers chose Veronica Vasquez to portray Selena; Vasquez alternated in the role with Rebecca Valdez.[113] The musical previewed on March 21, and opened on March 23 at the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium.[114]

Television[edit]

Selena's legacy, music and life was covered by a number of programs, including The Oprah Winfrey Show,[115] George Lopez's Lopez Tonight,[116] María Celeste Arrarás's Selena's Secret: The Revealing Story Behind Her Tragic Death[117] and specials in English and Spanish; these included Dave Holmes, Nick Lachey, Mariah Carey and Lola Ogunnaike, who talked briefly about Selena's death.[118][119] Selena was covered in documentaries on VH1, MTV, A&E and Investigation Discovery, such as E! True Hollywood Story (1998), Famous Crime Scene (2010),[119][120] and Reel Crime/Reel Story (2012).[121] Selena's life was also covered in The Biography Channel's Biography and Notorious.[70][122] The Spanish-language Univision and Telemundo networks broadcast Selena's biography on the anniversary of her murder.[123]

On January 6, 2010, Spanish-language channel Telefutura aired Buscando La Doble de Selena (Searching For Selena's Double). It featured impersonators vying to be the "next Selena". The hopefuls took part in competitive dances, singing, and personality competitions.[124] The season finale attracted nearly two million viewers, beating all previous records for that channel. It also became the "highest-ranked entertainment special" in the history of Telefutura. The season finale (on February 26, 2010) helped Telefutura become the second-most-watched Spanish-language television channel in its time slot, outperforming competitor Telemundo by 82 percent. The season finale rating was a 77-percent increase over Telefutura's last-four-week schedule.[125] Ilyssa Sáenz was declared the winner, taking home $10,000.[126][127]

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Books and articles[edit]